SCOTUS Considers Medical Leave For State Workers


Public employees seem to be one of the favorite targets of the right and they now find themselves under additional scrutiny courtesy of the Supreme Court.

The Supreme Court is considering whether or not public employees have their right to hold states accountable under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA). THE FMLA allows workers to take 12 weeks of unpaid time off to deal with either a personal or family health concern. A worker at a private company can sue for monetary damages if he or she is fired for taking time off under the FMLA (like for a pregnancy or to take care of a sick child).

But some courts have ruled that public employees do not share that right. Or, more correctly, that the Eleventh Amendment sovereign immunity clause shields states from legal liability in cases like this.

The reason the FMLA exists was to make sure employees could request leave without fear of retaliation. If that does not exist for state employes then all of the FMLA’s leave provisions and job protections are essentially meaningless.

So this is the pressure cooker state workers currently exist in: a growing hostility to the ability to negotiate for raises, health insurance benefits, and possibly, the inability to take medical leave for something like a pregnancy without fear of being fired. To make matters worse, the FLMA doesn’t mandate paid leave, simply that a worker that needs time off to care for a family member or for herself can do so without getting fired. This is how we show our teachers and first responders the value of their commitment to our communities–by nickel and diming them to death.


Related Stories:

Legislators Introduce Family And Medical Leave Inclusion Act

Your Wife Has Cancer? You’re Fired!

Photo from Emery Co. Photo via flickr.


Frances C.
Frances C6 years ago

Tamarah, You seem to be so perfect. Please keep posting on how we can behave to be more like you. If someone accidentally gets pregnant and can't afford it, should they breed or abort? You have such compassion for others who aren't as clever as you. Are you a Christian?

Frances C.
Frances C6 years ago

I am frightened every time this new right wing Supreme Court has to make a decision that effects American workers.

Hannah Short
Hannah Short6 years ago

honestly its sad when a person cannot take off of work to deal with sick family or kids and have to be afraid of losing their jobs, what would they do if they make almost no money, or someone is a single parent and their kid gets so sick they cant be alone, if the parent gets fired there will be no way to pay for the kids medical needs, bills or food. Then what do they do?

Linda T.
Linda T6 years ago

The state workers will loose this fight with this Corporated only Supreme Court. Please Supreme Court surprise me.

Jamie Clemons
Jamie Clemons6 years ago

health care and rights should equally apply to everyone.

suzanne o.
Suzanne Osborne6 years ago

Here in the UK we have quite frankly ridiculous amounts of paid maternity leave for public sector workers - full pay for 6 months and then half for the next. Kids are a lifestyle choice and those who choose to have them should get on with it but not at the states expense given that the state also pays for healthcare and education.

MEGAN N6 years ago

Daniel A.

I actually do not disagree with you at all and as we happen to live in America it is a wonderful thing that if a woman so chooses she can stay at home and be an at home mother for the first several years of her children's lives. I myself did this in fact but we had to cut a few corners and tighten our belts with regard to luxuries because I was no longer working and so we had to learn to live on a single income. I would never disagree with a woman taking time off to spend with her children (after all we only get them for 18 short years). What I have a problem with is subsidizing that time for them by paying years and years of maternity pay for her to stay home. I believe that all mothers deserve to be at home with their children if they choose to but they need to be responsible for that choice themselves. I am the only income in my family.

My husband and I decided that in the current job market with what was available it would be just as good for him to stay home and care for the kids as to get some menial job that would only pay enough to cover daycare anyway. We do this and live on only my income even though it is barely adequate to cover our bills. The thing is we own this choice and do not ask for any handouts at all. When we do come to a time when we have to have money he will simply return to the workforce. This is not unreasonable and should not be considered "mean" or whatever else people will call it.

Daniel Aldouby
Danield A6 years ago

Dear Megan N.
I am a male grandfather, 81 years of age, and would like to comment on your anecdotes. In particular, what you said about a teacher taking 6 months maternity leave. Did you know that in many civilized countries, maternity leave is for as long as 4 years? Other societies believe that the first few years in the life of a person are crucial to the optimal development of body and mind. The needs of the child come before the needs of the employer. That is true Family Values. Medical leave should not be a bone of contention. The problems of employers, both government and private, are systemic problems, having a base in certain beliefs about the worth of money, employees, children, education, etc. This in turn causes problems for families, when birth, disease, or family problems appear. The problem is not one of mothers taking advantage of society. It is society telling mothers that they are not worth very much. Don't forget, that is it males who dominate government and industry, and men do not give birth, and very few men take time off to be the House Father. So, there you go. Women are blamed. To discuss what one or two individuals do, is to forget what the real problem is.

Sue Jones
Sue Jones6 years ago

Good grief - this issue does cross all boundaries - I'm agreeing with Steve R! Okay, Steve, just a little ribbing here.

If every worker isn't covered, including government workers, then what is the point? Having been in the situation of taking care of elderly parents and requiring occasional time off, having health issues and long recovery surgeries - if you have no job to go back to, then what? This should be a no brainer. Of course state workers should be covered.